Q & A on Some Personal Characteristics of a Professional Coach

My clients periodically ask me questions. The following questions and answers regard some of the many personal characteristics that a professional coach possesses.
Client: What are some of the personal characteristics that are essential for the professional coach to have and how do they influence the coaching relationship?  
Coach Sandra: I find there are numerous personal characteristics that are essential for the professional coach. One characteristic I feel that is essential for a coach to have and is not mentioned often, unconditional acceptance independent of the client’s performance. One noted author and coach Mr. Stoltzfus refers to this characteristic as agape’.  Agape’ is Greek word meaning a love for humankind.  According to Mr. Stoltzfus, unconditional acceptance or agape’ is a shift in one’s attitude, piercing directly into the heart center so that we may imitate God/Spirit/higher self.  In other words the characteristic of agape’ is essential for the coach because agape is not merely hearing the client and jotting down notes while they talk, but listening with intuitive curiosity and for the love of knowing that person.
I remember reading about the psychologist Erich Fromm and his view on different types of love.  Fromm indicated that some of the essential elements to loving others are to have knowledge of them, meaning to see them from their point of view.  I always thought Fromm’s opinion about this particular aspect of love to be very insightful.  Although this concept may appear simple to some people, truly desiring to know another person can be a significant challenge because most people are typically disinterested.  Therefore, the characteristic of agape’ supports the coaching relationship because listening and withholding judgment is a compelling way to love people.  Coaching relationships have special boundaries that free the coach to offer this kind of unconditional belief and support.  How does all of this influence the coaching relationship? The client feels and knows they are the main focus while the coach is their support system.  The power of agape, as Stoltzfus (2005) states, transforms people’s lives.
Another essential characteristic for the professional coach is authenticity. I think this quality is important because if the coach is not authentic, the client will definitely detect this falsehood and it will jeopardize the coaching relationship. 
It is a powerful thing when the coach, or any person, can bring their true self to the forefront and not be afraid to be imperfect.  Clients need to know that coaches are relating to them, and to their stories. The authentic support that a coach can provide his or her client influences the client to trust and bond.

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